WEbuilding

ROBA – River of Blessing Academy

Year
2018 – 2020

Location
Koforidua, Ghana

Context
City

Issue
Education/Illiteracy

Size
0,3 ha / 6 classrooms & toilets

Service
Design, Fundraising, Construction

Partners
River of Blessing Foundation

Sustainability
Local workers + training
Sustainable materials e.g. CEB (Compressed Earth Blocks); wood

ROBA – River of Blessing Academy

The Project involves the expansion of the already existing River of Blessing Academy. The River of Blessing Academy (ROBA) started as a preschool in Koforidua in January 2013. Currently consisting of kindergarten, nursery and primary levels, the school was established by the River of Blessing Foundation.

Issue
The existing ROBA school already functions for years, even without all the necessary facilities. It is a private locally run school and from the schools current population of 70 kids, roughly 50% are offered a scholarship. Lots of lives of underprivileged children who wouldn’t normally be able to afford quality education have been positively transformed by this approach. The implemented system works, and it can only work better with proper classrooms and adequate toilets.

The global shortcomings that are addressed (quality and accessibility of education), and the measures of how to solve them come from the local organisation. Nothing is imposed from the outside which means less misunderstandings and leads to projects that will be used and not abandoned.Despite the great job in delivering quality education, ROBA’s major challenge remains, however, the lack of space available to accommodate their increasing number of pupils. Currently, lessons are taught in one big communal room, which is originally a church space on Sundays, but during the weekdays, is demarcated with the aid of furniture into five makeshift classrooms.

Solution
We propose expanding the learning facilities in Rivers of Blessing Academy by erecting an additional building complex. To provide the children with better learning conditions and enhanced quality of education, we plan to build six classes (classes 1- 6), with each classroom expected to hold about 20-25 pupils, bringing the accommodation capacity to a total of 150 kids. Our aim is not only to create an area that provides a feel-good atmosphere for the children, but also to make the construction project as simple and cost-effective as possible. 

 

 

Almost all new buildings in Ghana are done out of concrete and cement blocks with the roof structure built out of wood. This project combines commonly used materials and building techniques while at the same time experimenting with certain parts of the construction process to achieve higher level of sustainability while keeping the same price. Wood is of pretty high quality in Ghana, and the carpenters are among the highest qualified workforce. The idea is to use those facts and do a full wooden frame structure that shows such approach as a viable economic alternative due to the speed of construction. Non load-bearing walls are done out of compressed earth blocks. More and more local craftsman are getting skilled in earth construction methods and projects like these give them exposure.

Use of concrete and cement has been kept to a minimum and they are used only in the sub-structure. The superstructure has been done almost exclusively out of wooden elements (columns, beams, trusses), which has a much lower carbon footprint. Additionally to that some outside and partition walls have been done with compressed stabilized earth blocks to replace the commonly used cement blocks. Windows on both sides together with the roof openings provide good natural ventilation, so that there is no need to use the ceiling fans.

Breaking down the building process where all the work can easily be done by local workers:

1. Concrete and cement blocks are used to set up the load-bearing base – foundations and the slab.
2. Full wooden frame structure is constructed including the roof trusses using plywood as ceiling diaphragm.
3. Partition walls are done from CSE Blocks
4. Roof sheets and soundproofing are installed
5. Installation of all window and door shutters
6. Painting and finishing up